Construction work on the Trans Mountain pipeline twinning project outside Hope has resulted in at least one confrontation by a concerned resident amid an early salmon run– but documents show the work along the Coquihalla River was approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
It is suspected that the past and current heat waves in B.C., causing warmer waters, contributed to the early run. Though the salmon migration usually takes place in late August, the DFO confirms on their site that the salmon run is early this year by three weeks and it’s dominant — which refers to every four years in which the salmon return in their greatest numbers. The Coquihalla River is a tributary of the Fraser River and an important route for five species of Pacific salmon and steelhead trout.
In a letter and report sent to the Trans Mountain Corporation on Nov. 8, 2021, the DFO concluded that the “excavation of an open wet-trench” would cause permanent alteration of approximately 800 sq. metres of instream spawning habitat for pink salmon and steelhead trout, as a result of sedimentation. That could expand to about 1 km downstream.
The pipeline was given an altered permit to work Aug. 1 to Aug. 30 in the river, which wasn’t retracted or changed amid the early salmon run.
This documentation comes weeks after Kate Tairyan, a SFU professor and member of the advocacy group Protect the Planet, discovered and raised the alarm about the dead salmon in the river. Tairyan and the group have been demanding the DFO intervene and order a cease of work until the salmon passed through.
In an email to the Hope Standard, a Trans Mountain media spokesperson said that “in-stream work has now been completed in the Coquihalla River… Any early-run salmon were able to continue to move upstream through the river system unimpeded by Trans Mountain work.”
Despite this, the Hope-based Instagram account @stoptmx posted drone footage allegedly taken on Aug. 12, showing excavators still operating in the river.
Black Press Media has reached out to Trans Mountain for further comment.